#1202. Sur la Plage

By Nancee Rostad | Opinion

May 19

When an empty beach, a retreating tide and a brand new iPhone jumpstart a photographic reboot.


In early April I was finally able to get to my favorite beach town in southern Oregon. Eager to try out my new iPhone 13 Pro, the first morning found me making the short journey to a stretch of beach north of the jetty. Thankfully, it was blissfully empty of people (and their footprints), with soft morning light, and a retreating tide which gave me plenty of room to roam with time to explore. While winter tides typically produce a very smooth beach, this early morning Spring tide had left a virtual wonderland behind. Serendipity!


Stepping carefully, I was mindful not to mar the beautiful textures and patterns in the sand while framing shots in all directions. The abundance of whimsical surfaces left behind by the high tide were simply amazing. I saw 3D waves crafted solely from sand, rocks with sandy wakes left by receding wavelets, sea foam lace, as well as patches of sand containing streaks of granular minerals. All of these images were taken at the same time, on the same beach, within a rather small area, but what a variety of results!


Certainly there were many more wonders to discover, but I stopped photographing when the sun broke through with annoyingly bright light. Of course, the next day produced nothing in comparison.


I don’t believe I have ever seen such a display on a beach anywhere; although, a few years back, I witnessed the same beach during a minus tide with wide 4-5 foot deep canals left behind by the winter surf.


I typically visit this beach in stormy weather because I’m a beachcomber at heart. The powerful winter tides fairly rip into the sand, uncovering vast gravel areas full of wonderful treasures such as agates, garnets, sea glass, and small fossils. On the beach itself one can find fossilized wood, shells & bone, as well as chunks of quartz, jasper, and other interesting rocks. I once was lucky enough to find a very old Native American bone awl on this beach!


This trip definitely broke the photographic lull that I’ve been in for the last few months, of course, the new iPhone didn’t hurt either!

Equipment: iPhone 13 Pro Post processing: Adjustments to contrast in Lightroom


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  • Lad Sessions says:

    Oh Nancee! You have such a good eye for detail, pattern, texture, and your images make me want to go see this beach–but of course it wouldn’t look the same; it never does. Thank you for taking us all into this other world. I’m so glad your photographic drought has ended!

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thanks, Lad! I’m sure that you’d find plenty to photograph there – hopefully you’ll get a chance some day.

  • Michelle says:

    loved these! thank you for sharing them.

  • Steve Mallett says:

    Nancee Hi! Wonderful shots; sublime texture and pattern. Do I “need” a new phone. Hmm….


  • Philberphoto says:

    Nancee, there is a program in Japan called « national treasure ». True masters/mistresses of their traditional craft are named « national treasures », and paid a stipend by the Japanese state, providing they continue exercising their craft in a manner true to tradition, and make it available to the public, and have students to pass their craft on to. They can be artists of Noh and kabuki, calligraphers, painters on silk, weavers, potters, etc. I move that you be declared a « DS national treasure ». Second the motion, anyone?

      • Pascal Ravach says:

        Count me in 🙂
        And by the way, China too has such a program… the father of my ex was « Treasure » for his mastering of Qi-Gong. In Japan, they just « woke up » once to the soon disparition of the last kimono-making Master… they reacted just in time 🙂

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Once again you’ve made me blush, Phillipe! I’m beyond flattered!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Ah well – now you have a job ahead of you – when you finish printing them all, you’ll have enough fine quality wallpaper to paper your living room!

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything vaguely resembling these forms in the sand, anywhere. There images are truly amazing, and a tribute to you Nancee. “Less i more”, right? There is no need for all the exotic post processing programs out there, and the more that people fiddle, the worse the end result becomes. You’ve done the opposite, and the results speak for themselves!

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Jean-Pierre! I’m totally in favor of keeping any post processing to the minimum – just technically lazy I guess. I don’t think I spent more than 3 minutes on any one image.

  • Leonard Norwitz says:

    Lovelee. Crazee. Nancee.

    Do you mind sharing the name of this beach town?

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you, Leonard! I’d be glad to share the name: Bandon, Oregon
      Besides the beach north of the jetty where I shot the images, there are beaches and sea stacks south of the jetty. Hope you get the chance to go there sometime.

      • Leonard says:

        I just might do that, Nancee. It’s a mere 9 hour drive for me, the halfway point being Humboldt Redwoods for an entirely different photo zone. Thanks.

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Only a magician can turn sea sand into elephant and buffalo hide , and fish scales

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      The ocean was the magician in this case, and quite the the artist too!

  • Pascal O. says:

    So nice to see a post from you again, Nancee.
    The texture conjurer is back! Amazing, in variety, colors. Thank you for sharing, especially as it leads to revise my judgment on taking pics with a phone, something with which I am definitely not comfortable so far. Take care. Cheers.

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Pascal! At first I was hesitant to try the iPhone, but it’s so much lighter than my Canon 5D MarkII, and is so much easier to pull out and use quickly that I finally gave in. Give it a go – you may surprise yourself!

  • Claude Hurlbert says:

    Nancee, the hallmarks of your work are here. As Lad said above, “detail, pattern, texture.” You so obviously have an original vision and your photography communicates it so well. In your photos the world makes sense. There is order. There are reasons. There is depth and there is beauty. And no matter how much we humans try to screw all of that up, your photos seem to say that there will still be patterns and texture, and order and reasons, depth and beauty.

    Work to admire, as always–and this time with an iPhone!

    (I just picked up my own iPhone, pointed it at your photos, and said to it, “Why can’t you do that?”)


    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you for your very kind and encouraging words, Claude! I’m sure your iPhone can take wonderful images too, since, as we know, is not the camera, it’s who’s behind it.

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Superb, Nancee… I love the deep poetry in these images.
    Like your ice pictures, I could imagine one of these on a wall in my house!

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Pascal! Hanging one on your wall could be arranged!

  • Michael Fleischer says:

    Hi Nancee, what a wonderful captured collection of Sandscapes! Reminds me of all life, however slowly transforming like rocks, are in fact always in change & flux – so well seen on a beach that never appears the same. Many suggestive & adventures micro landscapes to appreciate!
    I keep looking…

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Michael! The beach is always inspirational for photographers because it’s never the same from day to day.

  • David Winton says:

    Stunning series Nancee! I’ve had a vague notion of something similar banging around in my pea brain for a while, but the conditions when I get to visit MY favorite beach in the world—Limantour Beach in Pt. Reyes National Seashore—never seem to cooperate on the ground with the vision in my head. You’ve done a much better job bringing to realization my—at best—vaguest thoughts! Aren’t moody beaches the best?

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thank you for your kind words, David. I too love a moody beach, especially during the winter. I wasn’t expecting to find such wonderful designs on the beach that day, but was more an eager to make good use of them!

  • John Wilson says:

    Nancee the one’s I saw on Friday were sublime. Now this! What a feat of beauty … and it’s all just sand and an iPhone.

    I Bow To You .

    • Nancee Rostad says:

      That means a lot coming from you, John!
      Thank you so much for your kind words.

  • Mer says:


    I guess you saw the ‘Smartphones are real cameras’ link that was posted a few weeks ago. If anyone was still in doubt, your images add good weight to the argument. Great stuff.


    • Nancee Rostad says:

      Thanks for taking the time to check out my post and to leave such encouraging words!

  • Mel says:

    Wow! In the 5th photo from the end: that FACE. Eyes searching the fabled coastline. Nose inhaling the salt air of creation. Mouth moaning recognition that the tides will return. A creature at once fearful yet thankful for the few hours of life here in the sand. These photos took me on a journey of imagination. Quite something for a collection of images from a phone. Thank you, Nancee.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    You’re quite the poet! I’m glad that you enjoyed my images. Thank you for the lovely comments!

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